Jeff Greene says he sold $16.5 million worth of oil and energy stock; rips Gwen Graham

Democratic gubernatorial rivals Gwen Graham and Jeff Greene have been sparring over a planned Miami-Dade megamall and investments. (Photos by George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Billionaire Palm Beach real estate investor Jeff Greene says he unloaded $16.5 million worth of oil and energy stock today — a sell-off his campaign says was already in the works when Democratic gubernatorial primary rival Gwen Graham accused him this afternoon of “profiting off Gulf Oil drilling.”

Greene then challenged Graham to put a halt to a massive mall project in Miami-Dade that sits partially on land owned by Graham’s family development company.

Greene and another Democratic candidate, Winter Park businessman Chris King, criticized Graham in a debate last week over the planned 6 million-square-foot American Dream Mall, noting that environmentalists oppose the project because it’s relatively close to the Everglades.  Graham’s campaign says she does not influence the operations of the Graham Companies.

Graham’s candidate financial disclosure lists $13.7 million worth stock in the Graham Companies, which her campaign said is less than 5 percent of the company’s value. Graham stepped down from the company’s board after she was elected to Congress in 2014 and has placed her holdings in the company into a “transparent trust,” her campaign said. Graham has also pledged that, if she’s governor and questions about the project come before state government, she will recuse herself and ask the state’s three elected Cabinet members to decide.

The Everglades Trust has criticized the project — but endorsed Graham this week in the five-candidate Democratic primary that includes Graham, Greene, King, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine.

Graham’s campaign today slammed Greene for owning stock in Exxon Mobil, Hess and seven other companies with “known oil interests.”

The companies are listed on Greene’s financial disclosure form as sources of “secondary income,” but the specific amount of income derived from them is not listed.

Greene began selling the stock when the market opened this morning and planned to announce it Thursday, campaign spokeswoman Claire VanSusteren said, as part of his pledge to divest himself of potential conflicts. Greene pushed up the announcement after Graham went on the attack, VanSusteren said.

VanSusteren said Greene unloaded 75,000 shares of Exxon Mobil Corp. at $80 a share, 150,000 shares of Hess Corp. at $65; 10,000 shares of Kinder Morgan Inc. at $33 and 9,800 shares of Apache Corp. at $46.

Greene no longer owns shares of three of the other companies Graham’s campaign cited, VanSusteren said, but he listed them on his disclosure “in an abundance of caution as he had owned them in the previous calendar year.” For two of the other companies Graham flagged, VanSusteren said Greene “derives no income from these stocks; he has not done so in more than 5 years.” Another company, Quantum Energy, “is a hedge fund with a 10 year term that will self-liquidate by September 2019.”